Sometimes a holiday needs a good dose of selfcare. From wellness sanctuaries with multi-day programs to relaxed country stays with saunas and spas to use at your own pace, pick from NSW’s best health retreats.
For nourishment inside and out: Stand Tall Retreats, South Coast
This female-owned and -run retreat aims to realign your life physically, mentally and emotionally. The roaming luxury retreats vary in theme and location across the South Coast; their summer retreat ‘Awaken Your Glow’ takes place in Gerringong and includes fitness sessions, nutritionist talks and healthy meals, energy healing, flower workshops, nature walks and swims, and massages. Accommodation is in luxury multi-bedroom properties, with options to share rooms or have your own space. Check their website for the latest retreat schedule.
For a beachside getaway: Crane Lodge, Palm Beach
Nestled between the spectacular headland and sprawling beaches of the Barrenjoey peninsula, north of Sydney, Crane Lodge is a luxury stay matching its idyllic and quiet locale. Book a stay at the lodge to bathe in the 38-degree-Celsius cedar hot tub and heated magnesium pool, cook with the outdoor firepit, walk to Whale Beach and curl up beside the fireplace before retiring to one of five bedrooms that look out to the green canopy. Add on the Signature Wellness Package for a forest bathing experience (mindful forest hiking), three-course meal, private yoga class and sparkling wine on arrival.
For connecting with yourself and others: Happy Buddha Retreats, Wentworth Falls
While some wellness retreats champion luxury and exclusivity, Happy Buddha offers a humble approach: the individual is what is important, not the surrounds. The accommodation is rustic and bohemian but the workshops are rejuvenating, spirited and varied. Try a multi-day Sound Healing or Drum and Dance retreat, check into a Silent Meditation retreat or connect with yourself and others through the Inner Joy retreat. While immersed in your Blue Mountains health retreat you’ll be nourished with a multicultural and vegetarian menu, made with produce grown onsite by the Happy Buddha team.
For wellness just outside Sydney: Billabong Retreat, Maraylya
Perched on the edge of a forest and a billabong topped with lilies, this retreat just an hour’s drive from Sydney promises a wellness experience connected to nature. Book into one of the lodges and organise spa treatments including massages, facials and reiki, or lock in a longer program that uses yoga, meditation and workshops to help you focus on destressing and living mindfully. Between learning and relaxing, the Billabong chefs will prepare vegetarian buffets centred around nutrition with all food intolerances catered for.
For a mindfulness masterclass: Soma Retreat, Ewingsdale
If Soma isn’t instantly recognisable (it was the set of Nine Perfect Strangers with Nicole Kidman) it will be instantly memorable. The 22-acre wellness retreat near Byron Bay is meticulously designed for purpose. Here multi-day retreats, designed by Soma founder and vedic meditation practitioner Gary Gorrow, range from meditation-focused beginner courses to masterclasses that promise to help transform your career, business, health and life purpose. The sprawling abode boasts communal living and dining areas that flow out to the surrounding rainforest, an enormous clear-roofed dome provides a space to practice mindfulness surrounded by nature, and 10 king-sized bedrooms (each with an ensuite) are luxurious without being ostentatious.
For community and humility: Heart and Soul Retreat, Otford
Heart and Soul is built on the practice of karma yoga and is volunteer run and community focused. For guests that means starting the day with an early yoga class then rounding it out with an empowering experience such as sound healing or kirtan (the yoga practice of devotional chanting) after dinner. In between you’ll take part in workshops, dine on health-focused vegetarian meals and book anything from Ayurvedic consultations to deep tissue massages at the Healing Centre. Keeping with the humble philosophy, the rooms are simple yet connected to nature – they look onto the garden and the peaceful forests that surround the Royal National Park. Alternatively, book a day pass to experience the daily program without an overnight stay.
For your own custom wellness package: Elysia Wellness Retreat, Pokolbin
At Elysia you can tailor a wellness package that caters specifically to your wellness needs. Choose from a wide range of workshops and one-on-one sessions, including personal training, swim stroke correction, nutritional consultations, hot stone massage, detoxifying body wraps and wellness seminars. Regardless of the path you choose, you’ll be staying in rooms designed with feng shui principles, each with a balcony overlooking the Hunter Valley. In between your wellness program, divide your time up between exploring the nearby vineyards and countryside, and making use of Elysia’s day spa, library and heated swimming pool.
For a group getaway: The Brooklet, Brooklet
Rather than a guided retreat, at The Brooklet you’re in charge of your own wellness experience. The luxury getaway in the Byron Bay hinterland is equipped with a 25m mineral pool; an outdoor hot tub, ice bath and rainwater shower; a hand-built, cedar, infrared sauna; a gym; an organic garden with produce to pick; and a treatment room where massages, facials and reflexology experiences can be organised. Almost all of it is surrounded by vast views of the hinterland, and you can do it all at your own pace. Book both the villas and the spacious main homestead (sleeping 24 in total) and you’ll have exclusive access to all of it.
For connecting to country: Yuin Retreat, Sapphire Coast
Join the traditional custodians of Yuin Country for three days of learning, renewal and ceremony around Narooma, the Bega Valley and the Bermagui region. As you explore the spectacular coastline you will hike to sacred sites, learn from traditional knowledge holders, feast on native ingredients prepared by the chefs at Mirritya Mundya and take part in a healing connection workshop. End each day by glamping on the coast.
For self discovery in architectural awe: Zensi, St Fillans
A one-of-a-kind, architectural marvel tucked away in the Mudgee wine region, Zensi delivers transformative retreats across a range of themes including rest, silence, detox and balance, as well as men’s and women’s retreats. A Rest and Slow Down retreat traverses a diverse range of wellness practices designed to help you unwind and reconnect with what’s important to you, while Feminine Goddess Retrieval welcomes women of all ages and backgrounds to connect with their inner voice through ritual, voicework, meditation and more. During any retreat guests will have spare time to bathe in the pool and plunge spa, and sweat it out in the sauna.
For an adults-only getaway: Spicers Sangoma Retreat, Bowen Mountain
Wading in the infinity pool, looking over the dense forests of the Blue Mountains after a day of relaxation, you’ll feel a million miles from the touristy bustle of Katoomba or inner-city Sydney. This luxurious retreat offers suites with incredible views of the mountain landscape and where the intimacy will help you feel like you’re on an exclusive getaway. But it’s not just luxury living here, the onsite Spa Anise provides a top-tier and diverse menu of treatments and the retreat’s restaurant, Amara, has won hats for its creativity, seasonality and local produce use.
For a World Heritage-listed tropical island escape: Arajilla Retreat, Lord Howe Island
Spend your days in the waves exploring the pristine marine ecosystem of Lord Howe Island then spend your afternoons at Arajilla Day Spa, an ayurvedic-led wellness space housed in a yurt under a banyan tree forest at Arajilla Retreat. Follow up with a fine-dining meal from head chef Ben Crompton at Arajilla Dining. Finally, unwind and drift off in a suite that embraces the local ecosystem through natural materials and private decks with views of the rainforest.
For going at your own pace: Gaia Retreat & Spa, Brooklet
Originally founded by Gregg Cave, Ruth Kalnin, Olivia Newton-John and Warwick Evans (now operated by Z1Z), Gaia is run on the idea everyone has a different wellness journey. Once you wake up from your luxury villa (there are also more modest rooms) overlooking a deck, pool and rainforested valley, you choose to do as much or as little as you want. Join a yoga session, do a one-on-one naturopathic consultation, play a game of tennis, lift weights in the gym, book in for a massage or therapeutic treatment and end the day by hanging out with other guests over tea, board games or the retreat’s organic produce.